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Washington state surpasses 5,000 COVID-19 deaths

March 4, 2021 GMT

SEATTLE (AP) — Washington state has surpassed 5,000 deaths from the coronavirus, a milestone that comes a few days after the one-year anniversary of the first known virus death in the U.S.

The state reported 799 new COVID-19 cases and 24 more deaths Wednesday, which brought its totals to 342,236 known infections and 5,012 deaths from the virus.

The first confirmed coronavirus death in Washington — and the U.S. — was announced on Feb. 29, 2020.

“As we recognize the loss of 5,000 Washingtonians to COVID-19, let us both mourn for the families who have lost loved ones and be thankful for the Washingtonians who have pitched in to prevent further passing,” Gov. Jay Inslee said in a statement. “Each of these 5,000 lives were more than a number to us.”

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Recently, health experts say Washington state’s death rate — about 65.5 deaths per 100,000 residents — along with infections and hospitalizations, have seen an encouraging decline, The Seattle Times reported.

Since seeing the highest daily number of deaths during the pandemic on Dec. 21 and Jan. 4, with 43 each day, the seven-day rolling average has declined from about 30 deaths per day to about 11 per day, according to Department of Health data.

In addition, Washington is seeing high levels of mask use and physical distancing in many areas of the state, according to Judith N. Wasserheit, the chair of the University of Washington’s Department of Global Health and co-director of the school’s Alliance for Pandemic Preparedness.

“We will continue to do all we can to help reduce infections, hospitalizations and deaths, so that more Washingtonians can emerge from this pandemic to enjoy healthy lives,” Inslee said.